Strategic and Security Policy Expert
Earlier, we published an article by this author under the title of "MOSSAD and Mojahedin-e Khalq". If you like to read it, please click <1>here<1>.
While the previous article addressed the general themes of the long-standing relationship between the Mojahedin-e-Khalq and the Israeli intelligence community, this latest expose deals with the specifics of this most intriguing of all intelligence relationships.
The central issue at hand is the methodology MOSSAD employs to control and manipulate the Mojahedin-e-Khalq. There is an in-depth discussion of some of the individuals involved in this intelligence network and the nature and extent of their relationship with the Israeli intelligence community. Once again the intention is not to embarrass the Israeli intelligence community or to compromise its sources, but to highlight the intensity of an intelligence relationship that is likely to create big headaches for the state of Israel in the future.
There is an almost unanimous consensus in the intelligence, academic and journalistic communities that Israel boasts the most professional, highly-motivated, effective and skilful intelligence services. This unanimity may at times overstate the capabilities of Israeli intelligence, but nevertheless there can be little doubt that MOSSAD, SHABAK and other agencies are some of the most resourceful in the world. The recent assassination of Ghaleb Alawi, chief of the Lebanese Hezbollah’s special operations group, in Beirut underscores the impressive capabilities of Israeli intelligence.
Although Israeli intelligence has achieved fame and notoriety for its assassination of Palestinian and Arab activists around the globe for the past four decades, the real reasons behind its status as the most capable intelligence apparatus is its ability to penetrate, control and manipulate target organisations. These techniques can be deployed against both friendly and hostile organisations. For instance the Israelis are known to have thoroughly penetrated the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s operational and administrative headquarters in Tunis in the 1980’s. Interestingly the Israelis used some of the same techniques to control their allies in the now disbanded South Lebanon Army (SLA) formerly headed by Antoine Lahad. The important point to discern here is that Israeli intelligence treats both friendly and hostile organisations alike insofar as penetration and manipulation is concerned.
In the case of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organisation, which has maintained a close relationship with Israeli intelligence since 1996, principally two methods of control are used. The first is the active recruitment of sympathisers of the organisation. In most cases the recruitment of these individuals is unknown to the organisation—i.e. the Israelis surreptitiously recruit these individuals in order to spy on the organisation. The second method revolves around the management of communications with the organisation by MOSSAD officers in the field.
The first form of control alluded to earlier—i.e. the recruitment of informants within the organisation—has been used effectively since 1997. MOSSAD is known to have at least half a dozen such “sources” within the organisation. In most cases the recruitment of these sources is unbeknownst to the organisation. The reason for this is simple: MOSSAD does not trust the information given to it by the organisation and thereby needs direct access to information. Most of these “sources” are based in Western Europe, however there is known to be at least one MOSSAD agent in the North American branch of the organisation. Ramesh Sepehrad, who is based in the Washington DC area, was recruited by MOSSAD through her Jewish-American boy friend in early 1997.* An active lobbyist and fundraiser for the Mojahedin, Sepehrad apparently agreed to work for MOSSAD once she was assured the agency had a collaborative relationship with the Mojahedin. In other words Sepehrad’s spying activities would not necessarily harm the organisation.
Sepehrad has proved to be a key link in the MOSSAD-Mojahedin nexus in recent years. It is through her that Israeli agencies feed intelligence disinformation to Ali Reza Jaffarzadeh, which is in turn broadcast to the world via the FOX media network. Sepehrad also feeds disinformation to Hedayat Mostowfi and Ali Safavi, two long-standing MKO members who are key figures in the organisation’s propaganda activities. A frequent traveller to Israel, Sepehrad is now considered a veteran MOSSAD agent. Indeed she is known to have undertaken MOSSAD-inspired espionage operations that are wholly unconnected to the Mojahedin and Iran. Some of these revolve around spying on Arab feminist and pro-Palestinian forums in the United States.
The second method of control is through direct MOSSAD liaison with the organisation. In this case the Mojahedin are fully aware they are dealing with MOSSAD officers and agents. From the summer of 1996 MOSSAD has often placed 2 MOSSAD field officers within the ranks of the organisation. The Mojahedin security team-formerly led by Ibrahin Zakeri and now largely controlled by Beezhan Rahimi—often introduced these officers as “foreign” sympathisers of the organisation. This cover is usually enough to allay the fears and suspicions of other members and sympathisers. These field agents are often, but not always, accredited officers of the MOSSAD and hold Israeli citizenship. Their presence within the ranks of the organisation provides a suitable cover for the dual transfer of information and furthermore enables MOSSAD to gain direct and open leverage over the organisation.
One such MOSSAD field agent was a Dutch national by the name of Edwin Jonkheer. Jonkheer who is in his late 30’s and apparently has distant Jewish roots, was recruited by MOSSAD in the Netherlands in the late 1980’s. At first glance Jonkheer appears as an unlikely agent, for he is quiet, physically timid and socially awkward. However beneath this veneer of incompetence lies a highly trained and motivated spy with a sharp memory and an impeccable eye for detail. Owing to the fact that he is not an Israeli Jonkheer could never aspire to become a MOSSAD officer, but nonetheless his loyalty to the state of Israel has never been in doubt. In the early to mid 1990’s Jonkheer spied on Arab organisations and societies in The Hague and Amsterdam for MOSSAD. By all accounts his activities were well known to the Dutch intelligence service. Indeed the BVD (Binnenlands Villigheidsdienst) tolerated Jonkheer’s relationship with MOSSAD for his activities did not threaten Dutch national security.
Beginning in 1998 Jonkheer was inserted into the network of Mojahedin supporters in the Netherlands as a “foreign” sympathiser. Ibrahim Zakeri was personally responsible for this “insertion” and handled all initial liaisons with the MOSSAD station in The Hague. Jonkeheer adapted quickly to the organisational environment of his new assignment, and soon even acquired an Iranian girl friend from the network of Mojahedin supporters in Holland. In July 1999 Jonkheer travelled to the United States with a dozen Mojahedin supporters from Holland to take part in the demonstrations in Washington DC. Jonkheer was apparently impressed by the organisation and motivation of the Mojahedin and filed a favourable report for MOSSAD headquarters upon his return to Holland.** This classified report advised the MOSSAD unit responsible for the Mojahedin file to look upon the organisation as a useful long-term investment. By all accounts Jonkheer’s advice was taken seriously for the next few years witnessed a dramatic increase of MOSSAD involvement with the organisation.
The following year, at the height of Mojahedin terrorist activities in Tehran and other major cities, Jonkheer was tasked with a mission to travel to Tehran and assess the real impact of the Mojahedin’s latest terrorist campaign. The Dutchman was to travel with his Iranian girl friend, who it seems was on a similar but separate assignment on behalf of the Mojahedin. The Dutch intelligence service (BVD)—having been probably tipped off by its British counterparts—learnt that the Iranian security services knew of Jonkheer’s assignment and most likely planned to arrest him and his girl friend on their flight back to Amsterdam. The British connection to this affair is plausible for both MI5 and MI6 have historically enjoyed close relations with the Dutch intelligence service.*** In any case the Dutch authorities moved quickly to thwart both MOSSAD’s and the Mojahedin’s mission, thereby saving Jonkheer and his girl friend from certain detention in Iran.
From that period onwards the BVD applied serious pressure on the MOSSAD station in The Hague to exfiltrate Jonkheer from the Mojahedin network in Holland. This process took 2 years to complete and Jonkheer is no longer a MOSSAD field agent affiliated to the Mojahedin. However he is believed to retain links with peripheral elements in the Mojahedin network in the country. MOSSAD has not replaced Jonkheer with another field agent in the Netherlands, but according to sources close to Israeli intelligence the agency currently maintains a field agent in the Italian branch of the Mojahedin.
According to sources close to the Israeli intelligence community, the magnitude of MOSSAD’s involvement with the Mojahedin-e-Khalq is unbeknownst to Israeli leaders and policy makers. There is probably a good reason for this, for it is unlikely that Israeli political leaders would sanction such a deep relationship with an organisation that even many in Israel readily concur is doomed.
It is clear that MOSSAD has a firm grip on the Mojahedin and controls and manipulates it at will. While this control currently has useful propaganda purposes, it is difficult to see what uses Israeli intelligence intends to make of this relationship in the medium to long term. As for the Mojahedin their voluntary absorption by Israeli intelligence services must surely rank as a cataclysmic descent into the abyss of political prostitution that not even they can present in a positive light.
* This information was given to the author by an Israeli defence journalist with close ties to SHABAK.
** This report is filed as NDBATUR1437. An edited version of the report has been seen by the author.
*** R Tomlinson, The Big Breach: Inside the Secret World of MI6, Edinburgh 2003, pp. 185-186.
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